Back ten years ago when I first got the Roadtrek bug, I still had years of work ahead of me before retirement and knew nothing about RVs, but I was formulating a plan to escape the weary life I led and hit the road. One of the websites I found Googling around for information belonged to this guy named Bob Graham, and I got hooked instantly when I read about how he used his Roadtrek.
Bob and his wife Carol lived in Hawaii. What they would do is fly to Vegas (there are always cheap flights to Vegas, even from Hawaii), get their Roadtrek out of storage, fill up with gas and water, stop by the grocery store, and hit the road for… somewhere. After they were through traveling, they would end up back in Vegas, store the Roadtrek again, and fly back home. That’s what I wanted to do – all except the getting off the road and flying home part. Bob and Carol went all over – Alaska, Newfoundland, Idaho – they would just head out and keep driving until they got wherever. Bob retired in 1995, bought his Roadtrek, and started writing about all the places he’d been. He drove it over 180,000 miles all together. His website is down now, but you can still see some of it in the internet archive here: http://web.archive.org/web/20050407033157/http://www.bgrahamonline.com/Roadtrek.html
Bob was an electrical engineer who got into computers back in the 1950s for Boeing, so he’s one of the internet pioneers. His website was terrible by modern standards – bagpipes would blast at you as soon as you open the main page (he LIKED bagpipes), and there was no fancy layout software (Bob probably coded it all himself, in html if not machine language), but the content was wonderful. In addition to the travelogue, there were stories about how he met his beautiful Hawaiian bride Carol in postwar Seattle, his adventures growing up in Idaho and spending summers as a Forest Service lookout on top of a mountain in a fire tower – fascinating stuff from an era now gone forever. He was on duty in the summer of 1945 when the word came down – look for a light from the south tonight. Years later he figured out that it was the Trinity test, the first atomic bomb. Bob didn’t see it all the way up in Idaho, but the government really didn’t know what would happen, so they had observers all over the western US alerted.
From 1995 to 2000, Bob and Carol went all over – and then Carol passed away. She had been fighting cancer since 1996, and their travels must have been a race against time to get in as many experiences as possible while they could. To help himself get over this loss, Bob took what he called his odyssey, a three month trip going from Vegas to Seattle, Idaho, Texas, down the the Keys, up to New England, over to Colorado, and Idaho again, seeing family and old friends and just generally getting his head back on straight. Bob later remarried and went on to have further adventures, but by 2006 his website wasn’t being updated. I had my own Roadtrek by then, and was busy with my own adventures so I didn’t check back as often as when all I had was a dream. Googling around now, I find out that Bob passed away in 2012.
Bob may be gone, but he left a legacy – all his children and grandchildren, plus people like me he inspired to go try it on their own. I never got a chance to meet him because he was off the road by the time I really got going in mine, but the dream was passed on through his website. That’s the best thing about the Roadtrek community – we’re all teaching each other how to use our vehicles to lead the kind of life we want to. None of us know how much time we have, and sitting around waiting for life to get better isn’t much of a strategy – you have to go out and have adventures. Thanks for everything you taught me, Bob, you’re an inspiration.